Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dateline Woodstock:
We don't have any statistical evidence to submit, but we believe Vermonters as a whole (and Woodchucks in particilar) are behaving as proactively as anyone to curb our individual carbon footprints. We believe that, should the polar ice caps really melt at the rate those scientists are predicting, we have as good a chance as any of waking up one morning and finding ourselves festooned with kelp. Those of us who have traded our 100 watt bulbs for high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs and our Jeep Grand Cherokees for Toyota Priuses were dealt a significant setback this week when the Woodstock Athletic Committee unveiled the new night lighting for the WBD (Woodstock Baseball Diamond). The Diamond is now surrounded by six 80-foot stainless steel poles -- each topped with 25 gleaming 4,000 watt high-intensity flood lights. The design for the WBD looked good on paper, but it has had a few unexpected side effects. First of all, by the third inning of last night's game, the Woodstock Ice Arena noticed a big wet puddle in center ice. So they were forced to crank up their cooling plant to HIGH (requiring an additional 800 kilowatts per hour). Fortunately, they were able to refreeze the rink just in time for the Woodstock PeeWee hockey game to begin. On the saving side of the equation, new numbers coming out of the Woodstock Highway Department indicate that the Town can save $540 per night by dousing all streetlights while games are being played at the WBD. Last week the State of Vermont sent its highway inspectors down to Woodstock with their high-tech multi-array photovoltaic sensors to confirm that, during a baseball game, the light level on every sidewalk, street, and corner exceeded 1800 lumens -- a level deemed by the Vermont Department of Fishing to be sufficent for tying flies outdoors at midnight. Although there are many of us who still believe new lighting at the WBD has upset the balance of our carbon offsets, we were beginning to think that cooperation between the Woodstock Athletic Committee and the Woodstock Highway Department just might work out. Unfortunately, the local chapter of the American Cancer Society has weighed in on the matter, arguing that the Town must agree to provide each player, coach, and spectator with a free bottle of sun block (SPF 45 or higher) before the next game is played.

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